Silent Night

Too many busy days. Too many early mornings and way too many late nights.

All by my own choice. All fun. All enjoyable.

All have left me feeling the need to reacquaint my backside with my recliner, take an evening and just do nothing but sit still, maybe watch a little football, maybe read a book. Maybe just sit.

And ponder.

Ponder again the insatiable need we all feel to rush around like we’re a user in search of his next fix, his next hit. It’s like we get drunk on the possibility of our own self-importance. On our own inflated idea of our self-worth. The have-tos crowd out the sanity in all of us.

We find ourselves rushing, forging ahead when all along our souls are crying out for relief, for release. Until finally we burst into angry sobs because we’re just too tired.

Too tired of rushing. 

Too tired of malls,

Too tired of fake Santa.

Too tired of other shoppers,

Tired of yelling,

Tired of apologizing for yelling. 

Tired of rudeness in ourselves and others.

We long for the easy, lazy days of days gone by. We want to just get back to when life was easy. When it was slow. When we weren’t keeping up with the Joneses, outdoing one another with the gifts we buy.

We want nothing more really than to just be allowed to stay home for an evening with our feet up. But there’s choirs to hear, malls to visit, parties to attend, and the list goes on.

I’ve felt this way. Today. As if one more thing to do is five things more than I can handle. I’ve whispered in prayer over and over, “Oh Lord, I just need a silent night.”

I need a night of silence. A night to reflect on the Silent Night of so many years and centuries ago. I need a night of nothing.

Tis the season for going-going-going. It’s hard to be silent when you’re bombarded with noise, the rush and crush of shoppers, fellow employees, the squeal of tires, Christmas carols on the radio, on the cd, in the stores.

Is it even possible to have a silent night anymore?

I’m here to say it has to be possible. It has to be possible to have a silent night in the midst of my crazy rushing around. It has to be. I have to be able to have a silent night in the midst of a crowd of people.

It has to be.

A silent night is, I’m convinced, more a thing of the heart than of circumstance. Can we quiet our hearts in the midst of the busy season and be silent before Him as we behold Him? Can we trust Him to give us the peace we need, the joy we need, the hope we need, the love we need like He already promised?

Does He really richly supply us with the things we need? Even if all we really need is a silent night in the midst of a loud schedule.

I say it is.

And I, for one, am changing my heart attitude. I want an attitude like His. Like His attitude that said, “I willingly lay down my life for you. Come to Me you who are burdened and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. I am God. But I became a man, like you, a servant so you might always be with Me.”

His attitude that says, “I love you to death.”

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like….

Christmas.

And it’s not just the decorating, the parties, the tree and the tinsel.

Oh no. It’s more than just those.

It’s the almost frantic running hither and yon, yon and hither. The last minute rememberings.  The choir practices, the Christmas pageants.

And I’m pretty much ready.

But it’s not that either. It’s not the almost frantic rushing, the things to remember, the gifts to buy, the practices and pageants…

It’s so much more.  I’ll have to expound later…because the church staff Christmas party is tonight.

At my house.

So I’ve really got to rush and clean the paint off the cabinets from painting last week. Finish the bread. Make the mashed potatoes, the ham.

Aaaannnnnddddd there’s the timer…..

So I’ll leave you with a picture I took this morning of my morning and let you ponder this thought that has been eating away at my little grey cells for the past few days,

Why not focus on the gifts?

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Focus on the Gifts

Yesterday I received an early Christmas gift, those of you who know me well know I opened it yesterday too. You would be incredibly surprised to know though that I really debated not opening it, but placing it under the tree until Christmas.

But I didn’t do that.

This gift means I may never drink coffee anyplace other than my own home.

I’ve been a coffee lover now far longer than I wasn’t. I’ve been consuming it since I was the tender age of 18. At first I drank a little coffee with my cream and sugar. Now I prefer it “blacker than a thousand midnights down in a cypress swamp.”

And that, my friends, is very dark, very dark indeed.

The coffee brews incredibly smooth and goes down easy. I drink more water than I drink coffee, but this coffee maker could change all that. With this machine, I’m betting I could drink coffee all day long and forget about water.

This morning I was again reading in One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. She is talking about trust in the chapter I’m on..slowing plowing my way through. (I actually should say I’m plodding my way through.) I’m not going to lie, I have some pretty hefty trust issues.

I do. I’m not proud of it, but it’s true.

Too many times though we count the hard things of life, those things that happen to cause us to think we need to have hefty trust issues–struggles we’ve gone through, tragedies we’ve encountered, abuses we’ve suffered, and asked “Why should I trust in God? Why should I rely on Him? What has He ever done for me? What has He done for me lately?”

But that focus is wrong.

It’s not the bad things that should change our focus. It’s not the bad things we should look on as a reason to trust.

Our focus must be on the blessings:

  • the sun coming up…again,
  • the heart that continues to beat,
  • the lungs that still fill with oxygen,
  • grace that is still heaped upon grace,
  • His great mercy that we are not condemned,

When we wake up again to hope, hope that today is a better day–that is why are to trust Him

I choose my focus.

Focus on the bad, and all of life is terrible. God is mean and untrustworthy. An old curmudgeon. A killjoy. Not worth my time or my breath or my effort.

BUT:

Focus on the minute by minute, second by second gifts He freely gives and we have a reason to hope, a reason to trust.

Life’s hard things, it’s rocks and stones we all have thrown at us, those things don’t negate the goodness and the blessings of God.

No, my hard-hearted disbelief in His goodness does.

Grown Up Christmas List

I couldn’t leave out the oldest child living in my house…oh wait…I mean the oldest child I birth through agony…on the posting of the Christmas wish list.

(Speaking of Christmas wish lists, I had an email this morning from UPS saying they have a package for me that will be delivered tomorrow from Williams and Sonoma. I’ve never ordered from them. Woo Hoo!! I wonder what it is! And if it’s really for me. And who it’s from.)

Okay, onward and upward with the Christmas wish list.

Calligraphy pens. She got some last year for Christmas, took a calligraphy class with Opa. She’s good at it!!

Under the bed storage boxes. She’s a pack rat extraordinaire. She loves to keep everything she ever got, but also likes things to be nice, neat and organized.

Coffee, lots and lots of coffee. She loves the stuff, drinks it by the gallons.

Oh wait.

No, that’s not her. That’s me, I do that.

Song of Years by Bess Streeter Aldrich. She read it once and it quickly moved to the spot of “Favorite Book of Her Life.”

Daisies. The chipper, cheerful and happy flowers.Okay, so all those adjectives mean the same things. Sue me. I tend to repeat myself and sometimes I can be a little redundant too.

Music. Legal. Sheet. Cds. For CDs she says, “like Casting Crowns or something.”

A Woman Seen

God has really been hammering home the point of my joy right now. I am confronted by it at every bend and curve in the road. Even the straight places smack of joy. It hides in the unlikeliest of places jumping out to exclaim, “I’m here! Remember me!”

“You would be very ashamed if you knew what the experiences you call setbacks, pointless disturbances, and tedious annoyances really are. You would realize that your complaints about them are nothing more nor less than blasphemies–that never occurs to you.” ~Caussade

I read that a few days ago in 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp and carefully copied it in my quote book. Then I read:

We saw His glory…for…we have all received one grace after another…” (John 1:14, 16)

Every time we look for, are alert enough to see His grace gifts to us every single day, every single moment, we behold His glory.

Every time we realize and say Thank you for a new sunrise, lungs that continually take in oxygen, a heart that keeps on beating, a brain that is still wired, nerves that still send signals of pain. Every time we hear laughter. Every time we see a star. Or the car starts. Or we don’t run out of gas. Or the car headed towards us does.

Every time we say Thank you for the good gifts, love, family, friends. Every time we say Thank you for the hard gifts: struggles, death, sickness. Every time we acknowledge His provision for us, we see His glory.

I read also about Hagar and the well God showed her. (The story is in Genesis 21.) She named it Beer-lahai-roi, which means “Well of the Living One who sees me.”

This wasn’t new to Hagar, that God did see her as she had encountered Him before in a big way.  She knew. The well she saw in Genesis 21 was not a new well. God didn’t just miraculously drop a well right there at just the right moment. He did draw her attention to what was already there.

Her need. His supply.

He saw her.

He sees me. He sees me the middle child always convinced she’s overlooked, invisible, not worth spit. He sees. He sees me.

The God of the universe, Creator of all things, He sees me! Little insignificant, small me. He sees me.

HE sees me. He SEES me. He sees ME.

No matter how you look at it, He sees.

If I can’t find the joy in that, I need stronger glasses, an entirely different prescription. A spiritual one.

Today I’m praying for eyes that see Him, a heart that wants to see, an eager anticipation of His presence, and a heart that swells with thankfulness for all of His grace gifts.

Takin’ Another Step

The week of Thanksgiving I started running again. I haven’t really been out very much since October 16, 2013. Yes, I do remember the exact day. And I remember why I stopped running.

My heart wasn’t into it. Something about losing your running partner just takes the desire away. I honestly had very little or no desire to run at all. I would hear about races, see photos of my friends and family members running, and not miss it.

I’d begun to miss it. I would have the old urge to get out and run. So the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, I tied on my running shoes, told the children I was running a mile and would be back in 15ish minutes.  It felt good.

I ran 1.53 miles (yes, that .53 is very important…to me) in 21 minutes.

I set no speed records. I just went out and ran. And it felt good. I ran again (the same distance) on Thanksgiving and the following Saturday. I ran the same on Monday of last week. Tuesday of last week I ran 2.11 miles in 25 minutes. I’d improved my time. Half of that run (the wrong half too) was uphill and into the wind.

I took Wednesday and Thursday off. Wednesday because I have Bible study and need to leave the house at 8:30, and Thursday because that is my sabbath.

Friday I thought I’d try to add a little distance to my normal runs. So instead of an out and back, I rounded the corner and kept on running, turning a few blocks away and angling my way back home. I had to backtrack three times, but it was adding distance and I was feeling good.

Towards the end of my run, I could really feel the lactic acid in my legs, making them feel like they weigh a ton each and they just wanted me to stop.

Stop right now.

I hate it when my legs think they are the boss of me. I really do. So I pulled a Jensie and said, “Shut up, legs!” and kept running.

God applauded.

He did. I know it. How do I know it? Simple. He had this song start running through my head on repeat.

Eric Liddell said, “I feel God’s pleasure when I run.” Me too.